By Rev. Fr. Petros Mwale (Mzuzu Diocese – MALAWI)
“Fr. Petros, where was Joseph (the husband to the Blessed Virgin Mary) during Jesus’ public ministry and death?” – Monica (Mzuzu University – MALAWI).
Dear Monica, the last time Joseph is mentioned in the Bible is when Jesus was twelve years old. Returning from a trip to Jerusalem, Jesus became separated from His parents, who eventually found Him in the temple conversing with the teachers (Luke 2:41-50).
BIBLICAL SCHOLARS AGREE
Since Joseph is not mentioned during the public ministry of Jesus, biblical scholars unanimously agree that Joseph died sometime between the twelve-year-old temple account (approximately 8-12 A.D.) and when Jesus began His public ministry around 27-29 A.D. at “about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23). For example, early in His ministry (at Jesus’s first miracle in Cana), Jesus is noted at a family wedding where Mary is mentioned, but not Joseph (John 2:1-12).
THE PUBLIC’S CONFIRMATION
Later during the ministry of Jesus, some asked, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us?” (Matthew 13:55-56). Joseph also had a son named Joseph, yet Mary’s husband Joseph was not mentioned by name. This could possibly be due to the fact that Joseph had already passed away and was no longer attending the local synagogue.
At the cross in John 19:26-27, Jesus commanded the apostle John to care for His mother Mary. This certainly would not have taken place if Joseph had still been alive. The natural conclusion is that Joseph had died before the public ministry of Jesus began.
Joseph lived at least until the late teenage years of Jesus, teaching Jesus carpentry until He was able to care for His family.
Receive my Priestly Blessings from St. Cecilia Catholic Parish (Mzuzu Diocese – Mpherembe)
Rev. Fr. Petros Mwale – Feedback: +265884150185 (WhatsApp only)
Perrotta, Louise B. Saint Joseph: His Life and His Role in the Church Today. Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publication, 2000.
Boff, Leonardo. Saint Joseph: The Father of Jesus in a Fatherless Society. Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2009.
Sanders, E. P. The Historical Figure of Jesus. London: Penguin Publications, 1995.